Published February 5, 2024

Estimated read time: 3 min


Successfully Implementing a 4-Day Work Week: 7 Key Steps

Introduction

The shift towards a four-day work week is gaining traction as an innovative HR solution. However, ensuring the success of this evolution requires a well-defined strategic process. Here's a guide in seven steps for a successful deployment.

1. Listen to Employee Needs 

Marie-Sophie Zambeaux, founder of ReThinkRH, emphasizes the importance of surveying employees through internal polls. Understanding their adherence to the concept and real expectations is crucial. This listening step also helps acclimate teams to the new work modalities.

2. Conduct In-Depth External Research 

Thorough external research is necessary to understand various organizational forms, anticipate challenges, and learn from pioneering companies. Reach out to companies like LDLC, Welcome to the Jungle, Structa, Mozoo, URSSAF Picardie, Elmy, and engage with leaders to gather insights and experiences.

3. Conduct an Internal Feasibility and Impact Study

Analyze the impacts on employees, clients, and overall business by considering factors such as maintaining a thriving business with a four-day work week. Explore implications on productivity, associated costs, and compliance with regulatory frameworks and labor laws.


4. Co-Build an Adaptable Model 

Actively involve employees in a collaborative approach to define the most suitable model. Avoid the "à la carte" approach and aim for a collectively negotiated agreement. Include social partners in decision-making regarding new time distribution modalities.

5. Map Jobs to Redefine Organization

Implementing a four-day week requires a comprehensive reflection on overall work organization and individual team levels. Identify roles that require particular adaptation and explore effective solutions to ensure fairness and efficiency in a four-day setting.


6. Support Cultural Change 

Support employees through change by anticipating internal issues. Provide tools such as a FAQ, a detailed presentation of the four-day week, a guide to best practices, etc.  Engage managers in a more flexible and goal-oriented management style.


7. Conduct Experimentation and Iterate

Conduct a real-world, iterative experiment on a test population, such as a team or subsidiary. Avoid a "big bang" deployment to identify dysfunctions before scaling up. Regularly assess impacts on productivity, profitability, absenteeism, and customer satisfaction.


Companies that have implemented this system

  • Zapier

Zapier is an American software company. It announced in 2022 that it would switch to a 4-day week for all its employees. The company stated that this would enable it to reduce employee stress and increase job satisfaction.

Zapier implemented a 4-day week from August 1, 2022. Employees now work 32 hours a week, or 8 hours a day, from Monday to Thursday. They have the option of taking an extra day off on Fridays.

The company said it had taken this decision to reduce employee stress. Zapier also stated that the 4-day week system would enable it to increase its employees' job satisfaction.

  • Ideo

Ideo is an American design company. It announced in 2022 that it would switch to a 4-day week for all its employees. The company stated that this would enable it to improve the creativity and innovation of its employees.

Ideo implemented a 4-day week from January 1, 2023. Employees now work 32 hours a week, or 8 hours a day, from Monday to Thursday. They have the option of taking an extra day off on Fridays.

The company said it had taken this decision to enhance the creativity and innovation of its employees. Ideo also stated that the 4-day week system would enable it to reduce employee stress and improve job satisfaction.

  • Unilever

Unilever is a multinational consumer products company. It announced in 2023 that it would test a 4-day week in some of its offices. The company said it wanted to evaluate the potential benefits of the system before implementing it permanently.

Unilever will test a 4-day week for 6 months in its New York office. Employees will now work 32 hours a week, or 8 hours a day, from Monday to Thursday. They will be able to take an extra day off on Fridays.

The company said it wanted to assess the potential benefits of the system in terms of productivity, employee well-being and job satisfaction.

Conclusion

Experimentation and iteration are crucial to adjust the model based on field feedback. After 18 months,  if results are inconclusive, reconsideration of the model may be necessary. The key to success lies in flexibility and adaptability throughout the transition process towards a four-day work week.